Saturday, May 8, 2021

Kingston-Portage aboard VIA, 1982 - Part 2

Portage railfanning that year did not include the one-two of the westbound Canadian and Super Continental each afternoon as in the year before. However, the mid-afternoon arrival of the westbound Canadian was preceded by the noontime arrival of the Prairie Rocket, No 109 with its diminutive consist. On some days, I was able to photograph the eastbound Canadian just before supper. A car trip to Regina included seeing the Canadian farther west, once each at Regina and Indian Head behind VIA 6507-6607-6611 westbound at 2105 (below):
The same three units powered a substantial 15-car VIA No 1 that I photographed during the station stop at Portage on June 11 (top photo). A friendly hogger invited me up into the cab on 6507, taking in the track he faced ahead. View from ground level (below)

In Part 1, I made my way west to enjoy some Portage railfanning and now it was time to head home. Before departing forty minutes late from Portage la Prairie at 1711 on June 24, No 2 made two station stops – one for the coach passengers and one me and two other passengers who had booked sleeper space. I was in roomette 4 of Chateau Rouville. The porter mentioned that the train had been three-and-a-half hours late in Saskatchewan. The fellow in roomette 3 was telling the porter about water seeping from his toilet. The porter assured him it would be looked at once we reached Winnipeg. 

We scooped a 110-car CN grain train led by a trio of Geeps: 4317-4326-4318 which had arrived at Portage when No 2 should have! A CN boxcar of lumber was being unloaded at Newton, and six CN 40-foot grain boxcars were spotted at the Manitoba Pool elevator at Elie. The mileboards showed a steady 60 mph gait that was hard to gauge as the fields bordering the tracks were so large! Nine grain cars were spotted at the Mile 10.6 elevator. Long-stored CN equipment at Fort Rouge, with olive & black CN 10664 at centre:

Piggypackers were at work as we passed CN’s Winnipeg intermodal terminal as were CN switchers 7176, 7157, 7177 and 1252 as we neared the station. BNML Geep 2 had about 15 cars in tow at Portage Junction before our arrival 25 minutes late at 1825. Our consist at Portage, Winnipeg and Kingston:

A two-hour layover in Winnipeg included a change of locomotives and train servicing. The amount of food loaded on board the two diners was truly amazing! All windows were cleaned by a four-man crew. VIA needs to know that clean windows make happy passengers. We departed 20 minutes late at 2029 and dinner was served immediately upon departure. We were soon passing Terminal Cut-Off at 2033, a ‘Prairie Rocket’ consist being wyed, then orders hooped up to us by a female operator at Manson. We were running left-main on double track near Molson. 

We met three CP westbounds before reaching Kenora: a three-Century freight of empty lumber cars, an autorack train and another westbound freight. The lights of Kenora glimmered as moonlight silhouetted Husky the Muskie along Kenora Bay. We arrived fifteen minutes early but left on time. Thunder Bay on the morning of June 25 was a slow go as CP’s yard switchers went to work: 6563, 6580, 6567, 6606, 8120, 8114, 8122 and chop-nosed Geeps 1529, 1530 and 1542. Vessels Lake Manitoba, Algosea and Ontario Power were in the harbour, the latter being sent off the lakes that year before scrapping in Taiwan in 1987. CN GMD-1’s 1914, 1900, 1906 also shepherded grain cars around, turning them into empties for return to western elevators. Our train on a curve east of Terrace Bay, possibly near Moberley Bay:

We reached Schreiber on time at 1105, where switcher 6549 and end-cupola van 437147 were on duty. The Dayliner was still there! We passed an eastbound roadswitcher led by Century 4557 at Steel, a hi-rail crane in the siding at Coldwell, and a bay full of logs near Marathon at 1228 before the track swung away from the lake. 

We stopped briefly at Mobert before reaching White River at 1412, where a new siding was being installed. CP road units 4501-5755 were switching and I walked up to the head-end but was not granted a cab ride - train orders would have to suffice! Algoma Central gondolas but no trains awaited our passage through Franz at 1540. We met a westbound four-unit CP piggyback freight at Missanabie, where a metal water tower had a bricked-in shaft and an old station building set back from the tracks was being used as a hardware store. Supper was Pork Chops Polynesian. Could I possibly have digested eight dinner rolls, as my notes seem to suggest? Reaching Chapleau fourteen minutes early, a CP westbound behind 5938-4705-5745 was setting out CP business car 7. I took this photo from a few steps behind No 2’s Park car at Chapleau, on June 25:

An easy 55 mph out of Chapleau included an entire field of sawdust from a trackside mill at Kormak easily 20 feet high, seen from the dome of Prince Albert Park. We took the siding waiting for a westbound hotshot freight with 5973-4553 and 64 cars at Sultan. CP work trains were in back tracks at Ramsey and Roberts on this stretch of CP’s Nemegos Subdivision. 

A vestibule visit while waiting for an eastbound 2 miles from Stralak brought evening sounds of white-throated sparrows serenading us beside a very still lake. The fast freight passed at 2123 behind 5534-5548-4710- 4713 trailed by van 434564. No big wins came my way at the after-dinner bingo. I returned to my roomette at Azilda at 2230 but stayed awake to visit the head-end for train orders and a view of our train from the Paris Street overpass at Sudbury during our 2240-2335 servicing stop. Bedding down for the night with CP 7107, 7108 and 8158 outside my window, I awoke to CN 3150 and VIA 6917 completing the view at Toronto, on June 26! 

During my two-hour layover, I made my way to Spadina to add to my train-order collection, observing an Amtrak train led by ATK 347 and tailed by short baggage 1370 (above). Quebec, North Shore & Labrador Geeps 147, 167, 157, 169 and 133 were at CP’s John Street facilities (below), along with CP business cars Ontario and Lacombe. Spadina hosted VIA RDC-9 6004 with yellow ends but a black letterboard. 

Ex-QNS&L 147 (above) and 157 (below):

Our consist changed in Toronto: new power, the addition of four Corridor cars and the removal of I-series crew sleeper, second diner and four E-series sleepers. Departing from Toronto, we passed the Toronto Transit Commission shops at 0911, Danforth at 0914, GO Scarborough at 0917, GO Eglinton at 0919, GO Guildwood at 0923 and GO Pickering at 0932. Switchers at Oshawa included CN 1211, 1351, and 7173. 

Chop-nosed CN Geep 4005, just rebuilt from GP9 4468, was leading an 88-car westbound freight which we scooped at Mi 277 of CN’s Kingston Subdivision. We had been running left-main since leaving Toronto. Belleville brought lots of US-road boxcars, including Southern, Family Lines and Seaboard Coast Line. The new underpass just west of Napanee station had been completed - when the ribbon cutting was photographed for the local paper, the Corridor Canadian was obligingly in the background! 

Arriving on time at Kingston, our Corridor Canadian consist: 6786-6866-6613-601-Union Club-5647-3225-5541-118-122-517-5738-1368-Chateau Rouville (my car Roomette 4)-Chateau Dollard-Jarvis Manor-Prince Albert Park. Our eastbound was greeted by the passage of westbound VIA No 43/53: 6533-6630-9643-3033- 5611-5622-3221-5585-Club de la Garnison.

The end of another enjoyable trip west aboard VIA, on CP rails.

Running extra...
I can see the ocean from my front porch! Probably sold by now, renowned Canadian painter Alex Colville's cabin in Northport, NS is for sale for a cool $249,000. It's likely that the shoreline will erode before housing prices do, however! Built by the painter himself, it features a plug-in hotplate and perhaps the inspiration for his unfinished painting, The Frigid Trip to the Outhouse.

Instead of a waterfront cottage, many Canadians are working on their backyard resorts. This is my 'benchwork' for what I hope to be the Siegfried Line of Squirrel-proof Veggie Gardens. These four enclosures replace our porous bunny-fenced perimeter with these chicken-wired raised bets that sit within the garden plot. All materials were repurposed, with the exception of four 1x3's bought and six 2x4's donated by a neighbour! Other neighbours might report me for operating an illegal ferret farm, but rest assured, that's now what they're fur, and I'll be able to weasel out of it.


Brian said...

Interesting posts, Eric. I like the shot of elevator row in Indian Head. The arrangement of the P&H elevator is unusual with the annex being set away from the elevator, on the opposite side of the truck unloading shed. I would expect that this arrangement made the conveyors for emptying the annex more complicated. The P&H must have decided to add the annex sometime after building their elevator and there wasn't room to put it in the typical location alongside the siding.

Eric said...

Hi Brian,

Yes, that sounds plausible. I have seen the occasional 'remote' annex. There was certainly no extra space on the Indian Head elevator track!

Thanks for your comment,

Jason Sailer said...

Wow-what a neat scene Eric, oh to travel on the Canadian at that time!

Steve Boyko said...

Wow, what a great series of photos... and a great story. I'd love to have a time machine and go back then... and be interested in trains then!

Eric said...

Thanks for your comments, Jason and Steve.

Indeed, it was quite a trip for this 18 year-old, with days of Portage trainwatching just waiting for me upon arrival! The CP Rail route was certainly a scenic highlight.

Thanks for going back in time with me - it only took me 39 years to blog about it!